Some things in life have a big impact. Divorce, for example, leads to many changes in a person’s life. With everything that’s going on, it’s not surprising that recent divorcees may have given little thought to estate planning. However, any major life event should trigger a review of your estate plan. As you finalize your divorce and get your life back together, consider the following ways that divorce affects your estate plan.
Bequests and Personal Representatives Change
Unless your divorce was extremely amicable, you’ll probably want to change your Will and any trusts you have established. Most married couples give the bulk of their estate to their spouse. Make a new Will and revise your trust to clearly and accurately express how you want your property to be distributed.
People also name an executor or personal representative in their Wills. Again, most married couples name each other as executors. After a divorce, make sure you name a new personal representative as soon as possible.
Consider this example: Martha and Jeff divorced after 23 years of marriage. Jeff completely revamped his estate plans as soon as the divorce was final. Martha, however, kept putting it off thinking she had more time. When she died a few years later, her most recent Will was written during her marriage to Jeff and he was the personal representative and sole beneficiary. Minnesota law invalidated him as a surviving spouse due to the dissolution of their marriage. However, her family incurred extra legal fees because of the confusion surrounding her outdated estate plan.
Agents Usually Change, Too
An estate plan usually includes a durable power of attorney and a health care directive. Each of these documents gives the principal – the personal signing the document – the chance to name an agent to act on their behalf.
The agent named in a durable power of attorney may have very limited or very broad power. Also, that power may begin on the date the document is signed or at a later date. The agent named in a health care directive has the power to make important decisions about your medical treatment.
Minnesota law states that durable powers of attorney and health care directives naming a spouse as agent are revoked upon dissolution of the marriage. Still, to avoid confusion, set out your new choices of agent in a new estate plan.
Make Sure Your Estate Plan Reflects Your New Life.
It’s important to start your estate planning early and keep it updated throughout your life. If you currently have an estate plan, review it to make sure it still meets your needs. Don’t have an estate plan yet? There’s no time like the present.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Virtus Law have what it takes to assist with your questions and concerns. Please contact us by calling 612.888.1000 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our main office is in Minneapolis, with other offices located in Maplewood, Cambridge, Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.